Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wildly claimed his country was safer than the US despite the recent high-profile deadly kidnapping of four Americans by a cartel group.
Speaking at his daily morning briefing on Monday, Obrador proclaimed: “Mexico is safer than the United States. There is no issue with traveling safely through Mexico. That’s something the US citizens also know, just like our fellow Mexicans that live in the US.”
Despite the president’s insistence, official data shows that Mexico’s nationwide homicide rate is about 28 per 100,000 residents, about four times higher than that of the US.
Obrador also disregarded a recent notice from the US State Department advising Americans to avoid traveling to 32 states in Mexico, and issuing additional warnings for 24 others.
“US government alerts say that it’s safe to only travel [in the states of] Campeche and Yucatan. If that were the case, so many Americans wouldn’t be coming in to live in Mexico City and the rest of the country,” he said.
“In the past few years is when more Americans have come to live in Mexico. So, what’s happening? Why the paranoia?”
He went on to blame American “conservative politicians” and the media for spearheading an alleged campaign against his country.
“These conservative politicians … dominate the majority of the news media in the United States,” he said. “This violence is not a reality. It is pure, vile manipulation.”
The president appeared to be on damage control for his nation’s image after it drew worldwide scrutiny after four Americans were kidnapped on March 3 in the border town of Matamoros.
Eric James Williams, 38, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Latavia “Tay” McGee, 35, were eventually located in a shack in the city and transported to Texas for medical care.
Their two friends, Shaeed Woodard, 33, and Zindell Brown were killed in the abduction, with the notorious Gulf Cartel issuing an apology for the incident and handing over five members they claimed were responsible for the kidnappings.
Following the incident the US State Department said: “Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico. The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by U.S. government employees to certain areas is prohibited or restricted.”
Along with the federal government’s warning, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued it’s own warning, advising residents to avoid traveling over the border during spring break due to cartel violence.
The state’s latest warning came after two sisters from Peñitas and a friend went missing after traveling to Mexico to sell clothes at a flea market, authorities announced Friday.
The FBI said it was aware sisters Maritza Trinidad Perez Rios, 47, Marina Perez Rios, 48 and their friend, Dora Alicia Cervantes Saenz, 53, have not been heard from in about two weeks.
The group of women were reportedly traveling in a green mid-1990s Chevy Silverado to the flea market in the city of Montemorelos, about a three-hour drive from the border.